[Histonet] No Practical for HT in 2007(or after?)

Lee & Peggy Wenk lpwenk <@t> sbcglobal.net
Tue Mar 14 19:26:52 CST 2006

Hi - 

Yes, the HT and HTL practical exams are being discontinued starting in 2007.
In other words, 2006 is the last year it will be required.

(If you're not interested, please hit "delete" at this point, as I'm going
to get wordy.)

There was information on the ASCP Board of Registry (BOR) web page. However,
ASCP recently redid their entire web page, and this information is in queue
to be put back up on the new pages. (In other words, they didn't drop it, it
just hasn't been put back up.)

I'll fill you in on what I know, learned by reading an email sent to all
HT/HTL program directors about 2 months ago, and what was talked about at
educator's forum at the 2005 NSH meeting in Florida. Also, I talked with Dr.
Blair Holladay (head of ASCP BOR) when the email first came out, and with
Gerri Piscorski (exam manager) (312-541-4887), after that, to get more

Histotechs were the only category still required to do a practical. Med
techs don't have to prove they can make a blood smear or can do a Gram stain
or can streak an agar plate. Cytotechs don't have to prove they can make a
FNA smear or do a Pap stain. Phlebotomists don't have to prove they can get
blood from someone with collapsed veins, or do a heel stick on a newborn.
All other categories are tested by just a written exam.

The majority of histotechs pass the practical portion. Of those that don't
pass the practical, the majority of these also did not pass the written
portion. In other words, very few people pass the written but fail the
practical. Most either pass the practical/fail the written, or they fail
both parts, or they pass both parts. So the written portion of the HT/HTL
exam was a better indicator of who would pass/fail both parts, than the
practical exam.

The cost of the grading of the practical exams was very high - flying
histotechs and pathologists into Chicago from all over the country, putting
them up in hotels for the weekend, feeding them. The graders were not being
extravagent - pizza for lunch, sharing cabs to the grading center, etc. The
number of slides was reduced from 15 to 9, in part to reduce the number of
graders needed, thus reducing the cost. (By statistically picking the right
combination of tissues and stains, 9 slides were giving the same pass/fail
rate as the previous 15 slides.) The fee charged to the HT/HTL candidates
did not cover the cost of grading the practical exam. Not even when an
additional $75 fee was added. So ASCP BOR was losing money with each
practical exam.

Due to concerns about HIPAA, confidentiality, shipping, etc., many
candidates were having difficult times obtaining tissue (especially students
in college based histotech programs, that were doing rotations in hospital
labs for, say, 2 months).

This idea of dropping the practical exam has been around for quite a few
years. Reducing the number of slides on the practical from 15 to 9 was a
compromise, a stepping stone if you would.

The people on the ASCP BOR Histotechnology Exam Committee have been taking
pictures of poor staining and sectioning artifacts. These will be
incorporated into future written exams as troubleshooting and
problem-solving questions. What are the causes and how to correct thick/thin
sections, wrinkles, folds, splits, microchatter, etc. So the exam is being
re-written to incorporate more staining and sectioning problems.

Remember, the ASCP BOR Histology Exam Committee with histotechs very
involved with NSH, were involved in this discussion/decision. NSH Board has
a representative on the Histology Exam Committee/ASCP Board of Governors,
who was involved with this topic. ASCP BOR also talked with program
directors of HT/HTL schools about this at the NSH convention, asking their
opinion. And this topic has been discussed at various committees that I've
been on, for the past several years. So it's been coming, slowly, for
somewhere over the last 6 years, maybe closer to 10 years, that I'm aware

Now, some questions you may be having
- What is going to happen to the people who didn't pass the practical last
year or the year before (2005, 2004)?
    Each one has been sent a letter, informing them at they must take and
pass the practical in 2006 (this year). If they don't pass the practical
this year, then they will not have passed their HT or HTL exam.

- What about the people taking the HT/HTL exam for the first time this year
(2006), who don't pass? 
    They will be given one more year (2007) to take the "make up" practical,
in order to pass their HT/HTL exam. So, for just these few people, they will
be allowed to take the practical in 2007. But no one else.

- How will I know if someone I'm thinking about hiring can really cut or
stain, if they don't have to do a practical exam for ASCP?
    My suggestion - having them do a "practical exam" as part of their
interview with you. Hand them 6 blocks, put them in front of a microtome,
and give them 20 minutes to section. Then interview them more (to use up
time during the drying), and have them load the H&E stainer. While the
slides are staining, have a folder of slides for them to look at - some H&E,
some special stains. Ask them to identify the stains or the tissue or what's
wrong with a poorly stained slide. As long as you use the same type of
tissues in the blocks, and the same stained slides, and have EVERY candidate
do the test - this is perfectly acceptable way to assess someone you are
interviewing for a position. By this time, the H&Es are done. Have them
coverslip them.

If you still have questions, PLEASE contact Gerry (see direct phone number
above). She is very willing to talk with people about this (or any other
question you have about the HT/HTL exams. ASCP is THE best place to go to
for questions about ASCP. 

Peggy A. Wenk, HTL(ASCP)SLS
Program Director, HT/HTL Programs
William Beaumont Hospital
Royal Oak, MI 48073

-----Original Message-----
From: histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
[mailto:histonet-bounces <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu] On Behalf Of
Bartholomew2001 <@t> aol.com
Sent: Saturday, March 11, 2006 10:10 AM
To: histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
Subject: [Histonet] No Practical for HT in 2007(or after?)

Good Day Everyone!

I was wondering if anyone can confirm that the HT practical will be
discontinued in 2007 (and thereafter)?

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